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Friday, March 17, 2023

EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL + Q&A: Truth Of Crowns by Carl D. Albert


Official Author Website
Pre-order Truth Of Crowns over HERE
OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFO: Carl D. Albert graduated from the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts with a B.F.A. in Writing for Screen and Television. When he is not writing, you may find him gallivanting around Hollywood, whinging about back pain, or calling his dogs obscene things for barking at the ghosts in the walls. Carl currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
Q] Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic Carl. To start with, could you tell us what inspired you to be a writer in the first place?

CDA: Thanks for having me! I’m a big fan of y’all’s blog. You really give so much to the fantasy community.

To be honest, I’ve been pursuing a career as a writer since I was a pimply twelve-year-old writing anime fanfiction. First and foremost, it’s an emotional outlet for me. I’ve told stories my whole life, from comic book masterworks drawn in crayon to imaginary “seasons” played with my childhood friends to the fanfic where I honed my craft to film school and now to this, my first full-length novel. My goal – the Mt. Everest I’m trying to surmount – is to become a full-time writer.

Q] Why did you choose to go the self-published route with Truth Of Crowns?

CDA: The truth (no pun intended) is I queried a couple dozen agents in 2021 and most never read more than my query letter and the first five/ten pages of my manuscript. While I think the draft I was working with at the time was in much rougher shape than the one I have now, it was immensely frustrating to be locked in “prologue jail.” I don’t blame the agents really. They’re incredibly busy. But that doesn’t change the fact that I felt the book hadn’t been given a fair shot. 

After writing consistently for well over a decade, receiving a formal education in screenwriting, and independently studying the craft (shoutout to Brando Sando’s lecture series), I felt I had finally written something worth putting out there, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I knew I had to take the process as seriously as I would if I was trad pubbed, so I sought out a fantastic (pun intended) editor in A.P. Canavan of Malazan and Booktube fame, and I got a cover that looks worthy of your bookshelf.

Q] The artwork for Truth Of Crowns is very striking. What were your main pointers for your cover artist/designer as you both went through the process of finalizing it? What were the main things that you wished to focus on in it?
CDA: It’s worth mentioning that I used the website 99designs where you can run a contest for artists to try out for your cover. Now admittedly a lot of the submissions were AI-generated, which I wanted to avoid, but the site also connected me with the kind, timely, and talented artist •ckmr• who created the winning design. The prompt I gave basically asked for a stylized dark fantasy cover that was decidedly adult and had a limited color palette. I provided some ideas for imagery and let the artists go wild. I wanted something that was commercial, but also distinct. The notes I gave for the winning design were honestly minor tweaks. Ivan (last name unknown) sent a first draft that was 90% there.

Q] Let’s talk about how Truth of Crowns came to fruition? What was your inspiration for this fantasy story?
CDA: I’m embarrassed to admit that the original idea was just “what if Game of Thrones, but Renaissance?” It’s evolved a lot since then, but that was the first seed of the story. This series as a whole is my love letter to epic fantasy, deconstructing, reconstructing, and playing with all the tropes I love…and some I consider, ahem, dumb. The inspirations are many and varied, but the most obvious ones are probably A Song of Ice and Fire, Dune, Realm of the Elderlings, and – I feel pretentious admitting this – Shakespeare. There are also semiautobiographical elements. Not a self-insert per se, but personal events and traumas adapted to this secondary world fantasy setting. To be frank, I ripped my heart out and put it on the page. Kali Ma!
Q] With Truth of Crowns being the first book of a series, what can you reveal about your plans for the series (number of books)? Is there a series title?
CDA: The series is titled The Ash Eternal. It’s currently planned to be anywhere from 5-7 books, depending on how certain arcs play out. I’m largely a gardener, try as I might to outline, so the plans can change on a whim. It might be split into two distinct trilogies or arcs a la The Stormlight Archive. Regardless, I know how it all ends and I have several core events planned for the middle books.

Q] Can you tell us more about the world that The Ash Eternal series is set in? What are the curiosities (geographical, mystical, etc.) of this world?
CDA: The world of Terkir is in a pseudo-early Renaissance period (think late 14th/early 15th-centuries), although none of the nations map perfectly onto real world countries. They’re all ethnically diverse and a confluence of different cultures, like the nations in Malazan or the Wheel of Time. For centuries, magick has seeped out of Terkir, and now certain events will lead to its rebirth (aha, Renaissance, get it? …I’ll walk myself out). Most magick is viewed as heretical by the Faith of Trinitos. Monsters have been hunted to extinction, supposedly. POTENTIAL SPOILERS: there are subtly mystical trees, rune-enchanted blades, curses, immortals, faeries, fomorians, dormant kaiju, and at least one giant fuck-off dragon.
Q] Can you share something about Truth of Crowns that is not mentioned in the blurb and why should readers should be excited for this new story?
CDA: There are several POVs, not just our main hero, Eogan. This first novel is structured as a classical five-act tragedy. I’ll let you intuit what that means, though it’s made explicit early on in the book. It’s character-driven, but it has its fair share of twists and turns and mysteries to keep your interest. It also features several queer and disabled characters. (This was important to me as I am both queer and disabled.) Expect politics, friendship, humor, wholesome sibling bonds, less-than-wholesome sibling bonds, and lots of fucked up shit.

Q] For someone who has not read any of your novels, how would you describe the type of stories that you write?
CDA: Everything I write is rather dark and philosophical, but it’s also important to me that it has heart and a (sometimes juvenile) sense of humor. Even Billy Shakespeare wrote dick jokes! I hesitate to call my work “grimdark,” because I aim for bittersweet more than bleak. The night is always darkest before the dawn, yada yada yada. You can expect some horror elements, as well.
Q] Who are your literary idols? Which books are your favorites amongst the genres that you read in?
CDA: OK, again, I’m a pretentious hooligan, so I have to mention the Bard. Robin Hobb is my number-one-I-wish-I-could-write-like-her author. The list also includes: George RR Martin, Tamsyn Muir, Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson, Neil Gaiman, Frank Herbert, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Damon Lindelof, Jesse Armstrong, Mike Flanagan, Hiromu Arakawa, and Eiichiro Oda. Ooh, and Stephen King! Love that guy. The list goes on…
As for books, A Storm of Swords, Fool’s Fate, and Toll the Hounds are my go-to fantasy faves. I gotta give a tip of my hat to Fullmetal Alchemist, too.
Q] What do you do when you are not writing, what hobbies and proclivities engage you? 
CDA: I play D&D almost every week with a number of my best friends. My current career is in film, so needless to say I’m a cinephile. Surprise surprise, I also read a lot. I game a little, mostly RPGs. I like to party, dance, play board games, cuddle with my dogs – pretty standard stuff. One of these days I’ll get a sexy hobby, like wood-cutting.
Q] In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?
CDA: Truth of Crowns comes out on May 26th! I hope you read and enjoy it. I’ve been working on this book off-and-on for almost six years now. It’s the definition of a passion project. And thanks for indulging my silly little thoughts by reading this interview! *blows kiss*.


Official Author Website
Pre-order Truth Of Crowns over HERE
OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Secrets, secrets are so fun. Secrets, secrets – cut my tongue.”

Eogan Grey has a secret that will see him killed. He is the heir to the Horned Crown of Dagdar, and he secretly married a woman forbidden to him – the crown princess of the Holy Queendom of Corice. When duty called, they went their separate ways. Years passed. Now, whispers of revolution haunt their respective realms, threatening to end a decade’s peace. As the tides of politics shift, Eogan receives news that the princess is betrothed to another man. Can he abide that?

Caught in a conspiracy of cursed children, machiavellian monarchs, riotous rebels, and iconoclastic immortals, Eogan must contend with the cost of secrets – his enemies’, his allies’, and his own.


Carl D. Albert said...

So grateful for this opportunity and excited to release TRUTH OF CROWNS this May! Thank you, Mihir!

Lashaan said...

Awesome Q&A! I haven't heard of this book nor of the author but I'm intrigued now and with that cover art, who could even resist the temptation haha! Cool blog, by the way!


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